Blossom Dearie 1st LP album (1957)
Blossom Dearie is quite irresistible because she was so darn unpretentious - female version of Bobby Troup and I'm not the first to notice similarity. It is a intimate, soft and friendly kind of singing, sound of not a intimidating force like Sarah Vaughan but completely different approach, comforting, sensuous and très chic, très feminine.
It could naturally be explained because she was an expatriate, American girl in Paris where she led vocal group "Blue Stars of France" and recorded two albums there, some of that famous French glamour must have rubbed on her because for the rest of her life she was basically perfecting this wicked kittenish persona, purring and scratching simultaneously. This was her very first American LP (recorded on invitation by no lesser figure than Norman Granz for his "Verve records", how about prestige!) and introduction to wider audience. Not sure how much it did for her on the charts but it definitely put her on the map because album is still in print and it has been for almost 60 years, far more than anything else she did afterwards.
Which is maybe pity because - surprisingly - perhaps her best work actually came later when she formed her own company "Daffodil Records" in mid-1970s and had no commercial pressure anymore. However, "Verve" albums are without exception brilliant and highly enjoyable. This one has everything already in place - girlish voice, intelligence, witty lyrics, that highly individual light piano touch, Jazz trio behind her. And vocal chorus straight from her Paris days that would not continue on further albums. She never had massive public attention like some other Jazz giants from her era but once you give her a chance, specially on a rainy afternoon, chances are you will be hooked for life.
"Give Him The Oh La-la" (1958)
Oh, I loved this from a very first moment and feel the same to this day.
Norman Granz produced this album - but where he surrounded his main protege and "Verve records" golden goose Ella Fitzgerald with strings and velvety orchestras, he gives little Blossom just a Jazz trio and let her do her own thing without interfering. So she cuddles up to microphone and gently murmurs "Like Someone in Love" while your heart melts and you wonder why on earth you have never met a girl like that in real life. Its basically very similar to her previous, debut album with same intimate atmosphere - it even has another French song, which became her gimmick.
Blossom's little girl voice sound actually completely honest and not something artificial. I can't even imagine what kind of person she must have been in person, but apparently she was well read and witty, because her songs tend to be not usual sentimental stuff but surprisingly sharp and clear eyed. By far my favorite song here is ""I Walk a Little Faster" that is the best description of optimism-trough-tears I have ever heard. "But even though I meet, at each and every corner, with nothing but disaster, I set my chin a little higher, hope a little longer, build a little stronger, castle in the air... I walk a little faster". I mean, this really touches me.
She is not very well known or easy to find. Blossom is actually a cult figure. You don't read about her in Jazz guide books, because apparently critics smirk at her. There's nothing dramatic or tragic about her life, no nasty biopics or dirty laundry to dish about. So when occasionally you meet another Blossom Dearie fan its celebration and joy, kind of mutual recognition and surprise, I still remember how it made my day years ago.